Quote of the day

“I am lately enterd into my Citadell in a disconsolate Mood, after having passd the better part of a sharp & bitter day in the Damps & mustly [sic] solitudes of the Library without either fire or any thing else to protect Me from the Injuries of the Snow that was constantly driving at the Windows & forceing it’s Entrance into that wretched Mansion, to the keeping of which I was this day sennight elect’d under an inauspiciary Planet.”

– George Berkeley, shortly after having been appointed to the office of Librarian in Trinity, as quoted by Peter Fox in his essay “They glory much in their library”, in Peter Fox (ed.), Treasures of the Library, Trinity College Dublin, (Dublin: Royal Irish Academy, 1986).

New exhibit for ANZAC Day in the Berkeley Library foyer

As part of our remit, the Department of Early Printed Books and Special Collections mount regular exhibits in the foyer of the Berkeley Library. Generally the single case exhibit ties in with anniversaries or local events. As today is ANZAC Day, staff member Helen Beaney has displayed the third volume of John Gould’s The mammals of Australia, shelfmark: Fag. HH.3.8.

Gould used to make rough annotated sketches which were worked up to finished images by artists, including his wife up to her death in 1841, and also Edward Lear, William Hart and Henry Constantine Richter. The production of the plates for this three-volume set was spread out over eighteen years, beginning with the Goulds’ travels in Australia in 1838-40 and with new material being sent over to Gould at frequent intervals after their return home. In his preface, Gould emphasises the opportunities to discover new species through exploration of unmapped parts of the world.

He became an authority on the birds of Europe, Asia, Australia and America as well as the mammals of Australia. The beautiful illustrations are still of scientific importance and provide great aesthetic pleasure.

Celebrated every year on April 25th, ANZAC Day originally commemorated the members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps who died at Gallipoli during World War I and now recognises all New Zealand and Australian soldiers who have given their lives in military operations for their countries. So which of the images seen here did Helen choose to display? Why not pop along to the Berkeley Library and find out?

Early Italian Printings

Image of Veronic Morrow at the workshop
Veronica Morrow

This morning staff from the Department of Early Printed Books were pleased to facilitate a workshop on Early Italian Printings organised by Dr. Clare Guest of TCD’s Long Room Hub and Department of Italian.

Subjects covered were varied, with Dr. Guyda Armstrong of the University of Manchester speaking about the Manchester Digital Dante project and Veronica Morrow, a former Keeper of Collection Management in TCD library, speaking about the Bibliotheca Quiniana (a particularly beautiful collection now in the care of the Department of Early Printed Books). As Dr. Helen Conrad O’Briain of TCD’s School of English was unfortunately unable to attend in person, Professor Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin gave Dr. O’Briain’s paper, entitled “Grammar and gardens: a pirate’s garden in the commentary tradition, Georgics IV, lines 125-48”. The final paper of the workshop, “The development of the modern classic: format and criticism”, was given by Dr. Clare Guest.

Image of scholars examining the books used in the workshop
Scholars examine some of the books used in the workshop

Following the papers there was an opportunity to examine the books discussed by the speakers in more detail. Here’s a few pictures of some of the treasures that were on display.

Red roses for me

While every day is book day here in EPB Towers, UNESCO have decreed today ‘World Book Day’. Actually some of the activities planned sound pretty interesting. I’m not entirely sure of the connection but the World Book Day website suggests the idea for this celebration originated in Catalonia where it has become a tradition to give a rose as a gift for each book purchased. Click here for a list of activities planned.

‘A Spoonful of Flummery’ from our Pollard Collection of Children’s Books

The Pollard Collection of Children’s Books was bequeathed to the Library by a former Keeper of Early Printed Books, Mary (Paul) Pollard, the fruits of over 50 years of collecting. Now, thanks to generous funding from the UK Trust for TCD, the project is being catalogued and made fully available to scholars for the first time. With over 10,000 items ranging from the 17th to the early 20th centuries, the collection provides all sorts of wonders, classics, oddities and beauties – a unique and invaluable historical insight into the reading life of the child, and a treasure trove for researchers and readers alike.

The Cottage Fire-side. [Dublin]: C. Bentham, 1821. (OLS POL 6494)

Image of titlepage of The Cottage Fireside
The rather crudely printed titlepage for The Cottage Fireside.

The Cottage Fire-side is a relatively unprepossessing little volume (see photo), printed in Dublin by Christopher Bentham in 1821, sparsely illustrated with wood-cuts and still in its contemporary binding. It has survived practically unscathed, despite the best efforts of one Ellen Birmingham – a former owner and eponymous dedicatee – to perfect her juvenile signature on its endpapers and initial leaf.

The volume is among the output of the Society for the Education of the Poor of Ireland, otherwise known as the Kildare Place Society, established 1811, with a view to promoting primary education in Ireland on the Lancasterian model (after Joseph Lancaster 1778 – 1838). It aimed to achieve this in a manner divested of all sectarian distinctions, to avoid the suspicion among the Catholic population that such Protestant benevolence merely masked proselytising zeal. Among its founding committee members were Dublin merchants Samuel Bewley and William Guinness, whose names remain synonymous with successful Irish enterprise today.

Categorised as ‘Instructive in Arts or Economy’, the contents are a peculiar admixture of moral, hygienic, practical and spiritual advice, served-up in the form of fire-side conversations between Jenny and Grandmother. Topics range incongruously from ‘Scandal’ to the curiously subtitled ‘Dress: a single life’, from ‘Tea-drinking’, ‘Vaccination’ and ‘Filial love’ to  ‘Never despair’, ‘Potatoes’ and ‘The annals of the poor’.

Image from titlepage of a Kildare Place imprint
Imprint from a Kildare Place publication.

Book-sales for the Society’s first 8 years of publication (1817-1825) exceeded 1,000,000 volumes. Ireland, which according to an 1824 General Parliamentary Committee report had been ‘teeming with immoral and mischievous publications” had embraced a far more wholesome and improving diet of instruction for the young. As per Grandmother’s advice to Jenny, all it required was ‘a spoonful of flummery’:  books that were cheap, edifying, and easily digested.